OMNI manager’s case study to be used as part of coursework on crisis management

Ruzica Subotic-Howell used her experience as a DOC during the COVID-19 outbreak at Almonte Country Haven in 2020 as the focal point for her submission

A case study focused on crisis management that Ruzica Subotic-Howell created as part of the coursework for a training program aimed at long-term-care home directors of care (DOCs) and assistant directors of care (ADOCs) was so well received by the company offering the course that it will now be used as a component of the training program.

Ruzica, the director of infection, prevention and control at Garden Terrace, was enrolled in the DOC/ADOC leadership program offered by Silver Meridian, a Whitby, Ont.-based health-care consultancy firm, in 2020 while she was DOC at Almonte Country Haven.

The Silver Meridian DOC/ADOC leadership program is a certificate course that includes components focusing on the challenges nurse leaders face in long-term care homes and how they can overcome those challenges.

The program is offered to directors of care (DOCs) and assistant directors of care (ADOCs) or those who aspire to hold these positions in a long-term care home.

The case study Ruzica developed was based on her experiences working at Almonte Country Haven during the COVID-19 outbreak that impacted the home shortly after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization last March.

Ruzica’s case study largely focuses on the challenges the home faced, the approaches used to control the outbreak, what she learned as a nurse leader, and how she and others worked with stakeholders in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment to control a virus which, at the time, little was known about.

The written narrative Ruzica submitted garnered positive feedback from Silver Meridian. Silver Meridian said her submission was an “exemplary example of a crisis management case study” that demonstrated innovation and leadership, was well focused and proactive.

Ruzica says she’s honoured Silver Meridian asked to use her case study to help others learn.

“I was deeply, deeply touched, because I wrote about the real-time experiences that we were having at the time of the outbreak so that we would retain that knowledge,” Ruzica tells The OMNIway.

Ruzica says a major highlight of her case study was on the importance of teamwork during a crisis. During the COVID-19 outbreak at Almonte Country Haven, people working in all departments came together to share ideas and information to help everyone through a challenging time. This teamwork proved to be valuable in getting the home through the outbreak.

“It was unbelievable; the nursing team and all the other departments came together,” Ruzica says. “It had to be a team effort, and the bonds and relationships that were created were unbelievable.”

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Almonte Country Haven residents receive first dose of Moderna vaccine

A team effort from residents, staff and the public health unit helped make Jan. 28 vaccination clinic a success

All residents of Almonte Country Haven have received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine to help protect them against the COVID-19 virus.

On Jan. 28, an immunization team from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit was at the Lanark County long-term care home to administer the vaccine, which is given in two doses.

Carolyn Della Foresta, Almonte Country Haven’s administrator, says four of the home’s nurses helped the public health unit team vaccinate residents.

After each resident received the vaccination, they were given a special badge to wear that read, “I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine,” and were then brought to the front of the home where a public health unit nurse was standing by to ensure they were experiencing no side effects.

“It was all hands on deck and all of our staff were involved in supporting the recommended half-hour observation period to ensure that any possible reaction was swiftly identified and dealt with,” Carolyn said in a Jan. 28 e-mail.

“Thankfully, all of our residents tolerated the injection well, and then everyone enjoyed a lovely lunch following.”

After the residents were vaccinated, Almonte Country Haven team members monitored everyone for “even the slightest change in status” to add an extra layer of safety, Carolyn says, adding all staff members from every department are trained and instructed on the importance of close observation of residents.

Carolyn also commended the teamwork shown by residents, Almonte Country Haven staff and members of the public health unit’s vaccination team that ensured the day’s success.

“I would like to offer a huge shout of congratulations and thanks to our residents, our Haven staff and our partners at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit,” Carolyn said.

“Today was yet another emotional day on our journey of healing, and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s support.”

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Having a certified doula will enhance the quality of end-of-life/palliative care at Country Haven, says manager

RPN Rachel Gukert, who has a ‘passion’ for helping residents receiving palliative care and their families, recently completed her end-of-life doula training

Almonte Country Haven registered practical nurse (RPN) Rachel Gukert recently became a certified end-of-life doula, and her training and expertise counselling residents at the end-of-life stage and their families will help enhance the quality of care at the Lanark County long-term care home, says one of Rachel’s colleagues.

Ruzica Subotic-Howell, the director of infection, prevention and control at Garden Terrace, worked with Rachel at Almonte Country Haven when Ruzica was Country Haven’s director of care. She says Rachel has a “passion” for helping residents receiving palliative care supports and their families, and the knowledge she has gleaned through her end-of-life doula certification will enhance the already-strong palliative care team at the home, Ruzica adds.

“Doula” is a Greek word that translates to “servant” or “helper”. The goal of an end-of-life doula is to empower and counsel people who are at the end-of-life stage and their families on decision making when it comes to their wishes and needs.

While staff members working on palliative care teams already consult with residents receiving end-of-life care and their families about their wishes and needs, a doula specializes in the approach, Ruzica says.

“What (having an end-of-life doula) will mean for residents receiving end-of-life care is that they will have a specialized person who will be able to look at the domains of their care as they move to end-of-life/palliative care,” Ruzica tells The OMNIway.

“This is definitely related to the quality of resident care because Rachel is now a leader in that, and she’s a wonderful teacher and a team player who shares her knowledge with others, so it will be a tremendous benefit for the home.”

Ruzica says there are not many doulas working in Ontario long-term care homes, so being certified as an end-of-life doula is a “massive achievement” for Rachel that will benefit Almonte Country Haven residents and their loved ones.

“Rachel has been such a keen person, (and) she has taken on the initiative to (build upon) her palliative care knowledge, so this brings (her expertise) up quite a notch,” Ruzica says.

“She wants to work with residents at Almonte and really solidify the knowledge she has to help them.”

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PSW students can receive training and work at Almonte Country Haven through partnership program

There are more than 10 spots available for February intake

Almonte Country Haven PSWs Debbie Burke (left) and Rebecca Smith (right) pose in their caps and gowns at a ceremony their colleagues at the Lanark County long-term care home organized for them.

People interested in a career as a personal support worker (PSW) can have the costs of their studies covered and receive employment at Almonte Country Haven through a partnership the Lanark County long-term care home has entered.

Almonte Country Haven began a workplace partnership this year with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Canadian Career Academy (CCA) to help provide people interested in careers as PSWs with the required training.

CDSBEO offers a PSW training program at a comparatively low cost and has also partnered with CCA to cover a portion of students’ tuition. Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

Almonte Country Haven was approached by CDSBEO and CCA and asked if the home was interested in becoming a workplace partner.

Carolyn Della Foresta, Almonte Country Haven’s administrator, says the home didn’t hesitate to get involved. OMNI Health Care, which owns Almonte Country Haven, also offered to help.

“We, of course, jumped at this amazing opportunity, and OMNI kindly offered to cover, through the OMNI bursary program, the portion of the program that CCA did not cover,” she tells The OMNIway.

“This meant that any prospective student that was interested in the program would have the cost covered, would complete their placement with us, while earning money, and had guaranteed employment with us here at Almonte Country Haven during and post-graduation.”

The first two Almonte Country Haven PSWs to receive training through this partnership – Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith – graduated in October.

Currently, there are four Almonte Country Haven team members enrolled in the PSW program who will graduate in January.

There are currently more than 10 spaces available for the PSW training program that will start in February, and Almonte Country Haven is looking for more to join.

Anyone interested in PSW training through this partnership can contact Carolyn at 613-256-3095, ext. 222.

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Almonte Country Haven hosts surprise ceremony for two PSW graduates

Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith are the first team members to graduate from a PSW program ACH is involved with. When their graduation ceremony was cancelled due to the pandemic, the home stepped up and organized a special event to honour their achievement

Almonte Country Haven PSWs Debbie Burke (left) and Rebecca Smith (right) pose in their caps and gowns at a ceremony their colleagues at the Lanark County long-term care home organized for them.

When Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta learned that two graduates of a personal support worker (PSW) program the home is involved with were unable to have a graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she and the rest of the home’s staff made sure their accomplishments were honoured.

In October, Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith became the first team members at the Lanark County long-term care home to complete training through a PSW program offered by the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and supported by the Canadian Career Academy (CCA).

Almonte Country Haven is a long-term care home in the region partnering with this CDSBEO-CCA collaboration.

Given that Debbie and Rebecca graduating from the program was an important milestone, Carolyn wanted to ensure their achievement was celebrated at Almonte Country Haven, so she planned a surprise ceremony for the two PSWs.

“I went on Amazon and found graduation gowns and caps, as well as some fun and affordable decorations, (and) we quietly planned a surprise, safe graduation ceremony – everyone wore masks and we all social-distanced,” Carolyn tells The OMNIway.

Debbie and Rebecca joined the Almonte Country Haven team in early 2020. Carolyn characterizes Debbie and Rebecca as “truly amazing PSWs – we are blessed to have them as part of our team.”

Carolyn adds that Debbie and Rebecca worked full time during the COVID-19 outbreak that impacted Almonte Country Haven in the spring, while taking classes and managing their family lives.

“I am amazed by what they have accomplished,” she says.

On the day of their graduation ceremony, Debbie and Rebecca were called to a “staff meeting” and were “completely surprised” when they walked into the meeting last (Carolyn had made sure of this) to be met with lots of fanfare from their co-workers.

There was music playing and staff members handed Debbie and Rebecca their caps and gowns to wear.

“All the staff cheered them on and congratulated them,” Carolyn says. “We are so proud of them, as they both are amazingly kind and compassionate PSWs and they embody OMNI’s mission, vision and values.”

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Almonte staff celebrate as COVID-19 outbreak officially ends and outdoor visits start

Almonte Country Haven staff members start clapping Tuesday morning as they learn from administrator Carolyn Della Foresta that the three-month COVID-19 outbreak at the home has now officially ended.

Administrator Carolyn Della Foresta applauded staff members for their ‘tireless efforts’ during a challenging time. She also thanked the local community for its compassion and support

It has been a challenging three months for Almonte Country Haven residents and staff members, but the COVID-19 outbreak that began in late March has officially ended. Read more

Almonte Country Haven’s dedicated, hard-working and caring staff have been key to meeting pandemic’s challenges

‘I have been humbled by their dedication, and we are indebted to their service,’ says administrator Carolyn Della Foresta

While the past 2 ½ months have been challenging for Almonte Country Haven as the Lanark County long-term care home works through a COVID-19 outbreak, the staff members from all departments have been strong pillars of support for the residents and each other, says administrator Carolyn Della Foresta. Read more

Artist Lynn Melbourne honours Almonte Country Haven residents by sketching their portraits

Peppy Mocko holds a portrait of his mother that was sketched by artist Lynn Melbourne (left).

‘She has no affiliation with the home, and the fact that she just reached out of compassion and kindness and concern, it was such a beautiful gesture’

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, Lynn Melbourne, an artist from Almonte, Ont., was inspired to sketch portraits of people living in long-term care homes. Read more

VIDEO: Almonte Country Haven couple celebrate 73rd anniversary – and their reunion

Sunday, May 24 could not have been a more perfect day for Almonte Country Haven couple Mervyn and Emily Tripp. Read more

6-year-old boy raises $300-plus to support Almonte Country Haven team during outbreak

Six-year-old Lennox Donnelly, the grandson of Garden Terrace office manager Karen Paquette, is pictured here with macramé key chains he made and sold to raise money to support the Almonte Country Haven team.

Lennox Donnelly, the grandson of Garden Terrace office manager Karen Paquette, sold homemade macramé key chains to raise the money

Garden Terrace office manager Karen Paquette is a proud grandmother who just became a little prouder. Read more